Holiday market season brings together a few of life's simple pleasures: eating, drinking, music and shopping.
You could always go on Etsy if you wanted a handmade gift, but instead, you fight the crowds and scour downtown for parking because like all seasonal activities, it doesn’t feel like the holidays without it.
Aside from the annual markets you've grown to expect and anticipate, popular brunch spots and breweries have hopped on the handmade, wooden artisan train, too, including curated markets featuring gifts even a picky teenager would enjoy almost as much as they’d enjoy cash. Almost.
With a hot chocolate (or cocktail) in hand, meander the booths, chatting with your friend while casually looking at homemade candles and expensive needlepoint pillows.
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays through Christmas Eve.
Where: Market Arcade Building, 617 Main St.
A few temporary vendors have set up shop inside the Market Arcade including Classic Knot, a bow-tie business led by 12-year-old entrepreneur Shelden Gibbs. Stuff your dog's stocking with treats from Buffalo Barkery, find a housewarming gift for your friend's holiday party at Lily and Grey and treat yourself to some pampering with soaps from Spruce Up Soap Company.
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 29.
Where: Horsefeathers Building, 346 Connecticut St.
Rotating vendors crowd Horsefeathers' popular market offering everything from produce to chocolates and soaps to cake pops in its joint artisan and farmers market. Perks Cafe recently opened in the historic building, so grab a cappuccino before strolling between the vendors.
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 23 and 24
Where: William And Emslie YMCA, 585 William St.
With more than 50 local vendors and complimentary child care, the YMCA's holiday market offers parents a chance to shop for their kid's gifts without hiring a babysitter. There will also be food, a silent auction and raffles.
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 24
Where: Rowhouse Bakery and Restaurant, 483 Delaware Ave.
For a quieter market, shop inside the downtown coffee shop and restaurant sandwiched between uniform houses, while enjoying a fresh pastry and a latte. Afterward, stay for brunch and plan how you'll wrap the handmade gifts you just bought from one of more than 10 vendors.
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 24
Where: Hotel Lafayette, 391 Washington St. and the Admiral Room, 237 Main St.
At Step Out Buffalo's boozy artisan market, the focus is on the vendors and the alcohol. Which seems like a fitting combination, since nothing takes the dizzying edge off of a long holiday shopping to-do list like a mimosa.
Aside from 130 craft vendors and more than 10 alcohol booths, artist Chuck Tingley will perform a live demonstration, a DJ will get everyone dancing and the Buffalo Braid Babe will braid shopper's hair for free. The $5 admission gets you into both locations.
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 24
Where: Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave.
Buffalo Women's Gifts has been bringing local women artisans together since it was started more than 20 years ago by three women. Now organized by West Side Stitchery, the market will have booths selling handmade jewelry, crocheted hats, plant holders and other one-of-a-kind items, all to the music of The Buffalo Dolls.
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 16 and 23; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 24.
Where: The Broadway Market, 999 Broadway St.
While it isn't quite yet the season of the butter lamb, the Broadway Market is in full swing for the Christmas holiday season selling pierogi, sausage, produce and desserts. Santa will be making an appearance for a photo-op at 11 a.m. every Saturday.
When: 10 a.m. Nov. 25, Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23. Last brunch reservations are for 1 p.m.
Where: Hotel Henry, 444 Forest Ave.
Fawn over the architecture at Hotel Henry, the boutique hotel in the middle of the historic Richardson Olmsted Complex, while perusing vendors. Then stop for brunch at its restaurant, 100 Acres, for sustenance during your cardio workout (shopping).
Brunch costs $29 per adult, $15 for children 12 and younger, ages 3 and younger are free. They suggest that one person purchases a whole table's tickets to ensure everyone is seated together, or you can request to be seated together. Tickets include one entree, coffee, tea and a mimosa.
When: 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday until Dec. 29.
Where: St. John’s Grace Episcopal Church, 51 Colonial Circle
You might miss sweating at Bidwell Parkway while gathering your weekly haul of fresh, local produce. But you can bundle up in layers and sweat inside an Elmwood church during winter, too. Aside from the regular food vendors, artisans are selling their goods, so you can grocery and gift shop in one place.
When: 4 to 9 p.m. Nov. 29
Where: Brickyard Brewing Co., 432 Center St., Lewiston.
At the Lewiston barbecue and craft beer joint, you might think all there is to do is eat, drink and listen to music. But you can add shopping to that list, at least once a year, with the second annual vendor holiday market.
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 30
Where: 726 Exchange St.
Larkin Square is a popular summer destination, mostly for its variety of food trucks. But for its tree lighting, Larkin is going all out, with Stevie Wonder and Justin Timberlake tunes played by Vin DeRosa's Vitamin D crew, a curated craft market in the Filling Station, hot bourbon cider and food trucks.
When: Noon to 8 p.m. Nov. 30, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 2
Where: Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave.
Art thrives inside the Burchfield's galleries, installations and museum store. For this weekend, more than 50 local artists will be selling artisan jewelry and gifts such as gemstone jewelry and clay ornaments. The Charles Burchfield paintings have to stay though, sorry.
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1
Where: Karpeles Manuscript Library, 453 Porter Ave.
The curated market has more than 50 artisans selling food, jewelry, ceramics and vintage clothing. With such trendy vendors as bkind city, Daddy's Plants and Devil Chicken Design, finding a thoughtful gift for your plant-mom friend or street-style-fluent daughter will be easy. Admission is free, but bring a non-perishable food for the Food Bank of WNY.
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 2.
Where: Event Center on the Fairgrounds, 5820 South Park Ave., Hamburg
Christmas in the Country's little sister, Yuletide in the Country has more than 150 local artisan booths. You can get your Martha Stewart on at one of the cooking or holiday meal prep demonstrations. Admission is $5; ages 12 and younger admitted free.
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2
Where: Roycroft Campus, 31 S. Grove St., East Aurora
When it comes to gift giving, you can't go wrong with a well-made, handmade item, such as something carved out of wood or blown out of glass. You can find these types of gifts at Roycroft, as well as Buffalo's traveling alpacas from Thistle Creek Alpacas.
[Read more: Interview with owner Dan Garvey about Roycroft's updates]
When: 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 5
Where: Ellicott Square Building, 295 Main St.
Rock around the 25- to 30-foot Christmas tree at this fourth annual festive market. Shop at the many vendors, enjoy live music and eat, drink and be merry at one of the food stands or cash bar.
When: Noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 8
Where: Flying Bison Brewing Company, 840 Seneca St.
Perhaps it's never occurred to you to bring your child to a brewery to visit Santa. Well, now you can visit Santa, shop for gifts and drink a craft beer at this family friendly market while listening to acoustic blues-meets-swing music by Tim Britt. Bring a wrapped $5 to $10 bottle of craft beer to swap in the "saucy secret Santa." Get your barbecue fix from Fat Bob's food truck.
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 8
Where: Parkside Lounge, 84 Parkside Ave.
Edging Delaware Park, the Parkside Lounge is home to a vendor market of local artisans. If it's a snowy day, the park's loop is a picturesque location for a festive walk, preferably while a steamy cup of peppermint hot chocolate warms your hands.
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 8
Where: Buffalo Seminary, 205 Bidwell Parkway
Shop for a good cause at the all-girls private school's holiday market, since proceeds benefit the school's scholarship fund. You'll find vendors offering essential oils, skincare, jewelry, accessories and more.
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 8
Where: Sugar City, 1239 Niagara St.
You might have to convince the person you're gifting a vintage jacket to that it didn't come out of your own attic, but a market centered around vintage vendors selling DIY supplies, records, houseware and odds and ends guarantees no one will already have the gift or think you only thought about them at the last minute.
Well, unless they already own it from a decade ago, but that would almost be cooler, right?
When: 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 14 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 15
Where: Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St.
Procrastinators, this one is for you. This market is brimming with handmade knitwear and jewelry (along with cards) to finish your nearly last-minute shopping list. Hey, it's not Christmas Eve yet.
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 15
Where: Corner of Main and Elm streets, East Aurora
End the artisan market season with a bang, or at least live music, beer and wine (that you can walk around with because East Aurora has open container laws) food trucks and vendors. You might even run into some carolers, since the market lands on the same night as the East Aurora Carolcade.